I felt my world collide and then crash all at once like I’d been bombed right in the pit of my stomach. She was right. And how bitter it felt to be proved right of that one thing you have managed so hard to ignore. I guess I knew it already. I was just running away from the fact... Not wanting to believe. And that actually was the reason why I approached her... Hoping to get some different answer. But I guess not.
“Is it Xavier?” I asked, my voice almost not making out.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered with her eyes on the floor.
She hugged her books closer to her chest.
My tears threatened to break through as I let her admittance sink it. But I forcefully inhaled two deep breathes and pulled my myself together.
“I’m a lousy friend. You can hate me all you want,” she mumbled with her eyes still drooping.
“What do you mean?”
“You saw it that morning, didn’t you. How I ran into him. I actually didn’t mean to... You know, brew up anything. I guess, maybe I just needed a hug from him after all this time.” Her voice was almost a whisper when she ended... Shame and guilt bitterly burning on her face.
“I don’t hate you, Brit,” I slowly said.
She looked up at me, “Why not. For Christ’s sake I know how much you guys love each other.”
“I know, Brit. But I don’t really blame you. And I don’t hate you for that. I... I don’t,” I shook my head, “Absolutely not.”
She frowned at me.
“Don’t be silly. You don’t have to be that nice to me, you know.”
“I guess I know the feeling,” I said, “And there’s so much besides boys in this world, Brit. I’m not ready to break our friendship over a boy issue.”
“But you love him,” she stated.
“I do, Brit!!” My voice rose.
I didn’t find it fair at all that she was ready to stop talking to me just because of a stupid mistake she committed. Besides, she was already feeling guilty enough for it. After all those things we’d done together as friends, I wasn’t going to let her spoil our friendship over some stupid teenage mistake. I knew this happens a lot with people and I never liked it.
“I love him but aren’t we friends too?”
“We are, Alana,” she breathed, “We’re really great friends. We’re best friends. But I feel... Bad. I shouldn’t have. You know, I really didn’t mean to...” Her voice was breaking.
“I know, Brit. It’s okay. Just forget it,” I said.
She rarely cried in front of people, including me and Kendra. So this meant only one thing... Guilt. Extreme guilt. That was why she couldn’t meet my eyes or talk to me. I couldn’t hate her for something she didn’t really mean to. There are moments you just lose to the emotions.
I was once exactly in that same situation. When my mom died, I had ran into Jacob in the same way. We were kids but that comfort he gave me just by simply hugging me back helped me a lot. Brittany was now only wearing the exact same shoes. I felt for her. I couldn’t possibly hate her for that. She needed it.
“Nothing gets solved by just forgetting, Alana. I’m sorry,” she said and turned on her heels.
I didn’t stop her. As I watched her retreating back, a new fear settled in me.
Was she in love with Xavier? The way I am?
The idea almost made me choke. I wanted to know but then again, I was devoid of any courage to stop her and raise the question. I was too scared again.
“Now, you be good during the weekends with the Warrens, okay?” Dad scooted down and patted David’s shoulders.
“Sure,” David returned excitedly and they hugged.
Harry’s family were going for a weekend in their grandparent’s farm house and they had invited David and Jayden along. Dad was leaving for a conference too for over a week. Some special case in a patient he said. So I was left alone at home. Today was Friday and David would be leaving in the evening after school. His package was already at the Warren’s place. The Warrens only had to pick all three of them together from school.
“Take care, sweety,” dad kissed me on my head just before he drove out of the driveway.
Xavier came to pick us for school. We dropped David to school. They exchanged goodbyes for the weekend and then after that, it was just one usual day. When classes ended, Xavier and I met at the school yard as always. He was waiting for me next to his car. I reached him. We hugged. He kissed me. I pulled away after a short while.
Without a word, he frowned at me questioningly and yet gently. He had his reasons though. It had almost been a week since I hadn’t been responding well to any of his gestures or affection. Whenever I see him, I couldn’t help but remember Brit. And I couldn’t go about ignoring it all like nothing happened.
I avoided meeting his eyes and said, “Let’s go.” My voice was weak.
I opened the door to my seat but he held my wrist. I looked up. He was looking down on me searchingly.
“What’s going on, Alana? Did I do something stupid?”
“No,” I shook my head, “Nothing.”
“But you’ve been kinda off these past few days. Are you sick?”
“No. I’m not sick. I just . . . I’m just tired of all the tests. I’m not even really getting trig. So I’ve been studying. Real. Hard,” I said.
What a lame excuse, I thought.
But it made sense somehow. This week, we’d been bombarded with tests. In some way, he could’ve bought my trig-crisis excuse because it wasn’t any secret that I was bad at it but sadly, he didn’t. Instead, his gaze became intent and more deliberate.
“What is it?” He asked, reaching out a hand to caress my cheek.
“It’s nothing, Xavier. I just wanna go home.”
“Mongrel, listen. If there’s anything bothering you, I’m not going to let you deal with it alone, okay. I wanna be there for you and with you,” he said with desperation lacing each word as his eyes earnestly sought into my eyes.
I encircled my arms around his waist and hugged him close, resting in his comfort. Enfolding me immediately in his arms, he kissed the top of my head and stroked my back. I hugged him tighter.
Feeling my need for comfort, he softly asked me, “Are you okay, Baby?”
“I’m tired,” I whispered weakly as a drop of tear trickled down my right cheek and I buried my face further into his chest, blowing my trig-crisis cover.
Honestly. I really was tired; tired of trig, plus tired of having to deal with a breaking friendship, tired of having to deal with not hurting a friend, tired of having to keep it all to myself.
And I loved Xavier so much there was no way I could give up on him. That never was an option but I didn’t want to make things worse for Brit again. She’d just lost her mom. I was lost in the middle. I didn’t even know what I should do. All I knew was that I was tired, lost and I just wanted to come back home to him, to Xavier.
“You’re not alone, Alana. I’m here for you, okay,” he softly whispered back with a gentle squeeze on my shoulders, “Right here for you.”
My eyes streamed down tears hearing him say that and I soaked his T-shirt. I nodded into his chest. He held me tighter to his body, rubbing my back.
“I think we should get going,” he said.
I nodded into his chest again. He kissed the side of my temple and cupped my chin to look up at him.
He looked worried. Maybe I shouldn’t have cried but I couldn’t hold back. Sometimes, I really did behaved like a week old baby. And especially around him. I don’t really know how but Xavier really has a way with me. He could easily lead me to be so transparent with my emotions around him. He always managed to get me so melted and softened all the time. I couldn’t possibly keep anything away from him. By now, he obviously knew something wasn’t right.
He dried my cheeks with his thumbs and grimaced, shaking his head, “See, this is why I don’t want to see you cry. Your mascara is everywhere.”
“Really?!” In the spur of the moment, I quickly wiped my cheeks and the corners of my eyes. And then realizing, I slowly frowned up at him and said, “I’m not wearing any mascara today.”
“Oh. I didn’t know that,” he gave me a broad grin.
I couldn’t help but laugh a bit. He hugged me close once again in a tight embrace and kissed my cheek deeply. It made me feel better a great deal like he had squeezed out and kissed away all my sadness.
He opened the door for me and I got in. As he rounded the car to get to his seat, I took a deep breath. Better. When he got in, I pulled up my legs and moved closer to him. I held his arm and rested my cheek on his shoulder. I really needed someone to lean on to. I needed Xavier.
“I love you, baby,” his free hand from the other side reached out to caress my cheek.
“I love you too,” I replied and kissed his arm.
We slowly drove out of the yard and I clung to him that way until we reached my driveway.
Jacob was there, leaning on the side of his car when we reached my house. Xavier didn’t say a word about it. He never said anything about Jacob to me anyway . . . Never when he’s sober. We got out of the car.
“Hey, Jake,” I said as I got out.
“Hey,” he smiled.
“Looks like someone’s home alone,” he grinned.
“Not really,” Xavier replied for me.
Jacob met Xavier’s eyes and he looked suddenly intimidated. There never failed to be present a tension whenever these two met. Jacob’s eyes flickered back at me. I glanced at Xavier. He was casually sitting on the hood of his car with his hands in his pockets, looking as easy as breathing.
“Well . . . Yeah. Anyway. We heard you’re theoretically alone, so mom invited you to stay over until David’s back. You know, in case you don’t feel safe,” he said.
Xavier scoffed behind me, “Oh, so you’re waving the mom card? Smooth, Garfield.”
“Xavier,” I chided softly.
We all knew Jake didn’t mean any of that. It was obvious that dad asked Aunt Renée (Jake’s mom) to look out for me since she was the closest we had to family in town, but Xavier’s possessiveness and plain dislike for Jacob took the best of him.
He kept glaring at Jake, never relenting the stinging sharpness in his eyes. This time, Jacob stared right back.
“So what if I did? It’s still her choice, Arquette,” Jake replied, suddenly confident, and I panicked at once.
There was no hell of a way Xavier was going to let this go easily.
Why didn’t Jacob just deny it?
Does he even know what he’s admitting?
Xavier’s body solidified all at once. I saw his jaws clench rigid. His eyes darkened and his glare was definitely shooting daggers through Jacob’s skull. In two quick strides, Xavier was standing tall and domineeringly in front of Jacob.
He grabbed Jake’s collar in tight fists - his knuckles as white as dead - and seethed furiously, “You can go fuck yourself in hell.”
The veins in his arms tightened and I could feel the heat of anger steaming out of Xavier’s body. His neck and ears were all red with rage by now.
“Xavier,” I held his elbow to hold him back.
Jacob replied again, “What, are you scared now that Alana would choose me over you because you clearly know you’re not good enough for her?”
“Jake!! Stop it!” I shouted at Jacob but none of them were listening to me this instant.
“And you think you are?” Xavier taunted, eyes narrowed.
“Both of you. Please. Stop!” I shouted in the middle.
Their chests were inches away from one another. One wrong move and a collision, all hell would break lose. That would be it. My nightmare before I even start sleeping. But it was like all that I was shouting at them to stop didn’t even reach their ears.
“What if I am?” Jake countered, moving closer to Xavier, “I probably know Alana much better than you do.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, pussy. Just because you spent some freaking childhood with her, you think you know her better than I do?! You can burn that fucking theory and stick it up your ass!!” Xavier retorted on Jake’s face, “And stop the fuck waving your lame mom card, motherfucker!”
By now, the two of them were raving into each other’s face and clutching collars, already at the verge of fisting faces.
“Please!!” I raved at the top of my lungs, “Xavier! Jacob! Please. Stop! Both of you!”
Jacob wrung off Xavier’s hands from his collar. Xavier was heaving heavily in rage. If it had gone any further, it wouldn’t be good for Jacob. At least I knew Jake was not as fierce and dangerous as Xavier was.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” I shouted at them. “I’m standing right here and the two of you goes on fighting ’bout that... Ugh!!” I groaned in frustration.
I was already having enough on my plate. I didn’t want anymore trouble to make things more horrendously interesting in my life. I just needed some rest and the two of them fought in front of me instead. Wonderful.
“Go home. Both of you.”
“Alana,” Jake started to speak but I cut him off.
“I’ll be fine, Jake. Just go home,” I said.
He stood still, not willing to leave.
“Go!” I commanded with a firm look on my face.
“I’m sorry, Alana.”
He turned on his heels, knowing that I meant it and that there was no change of mind. He got inside his car and soon left. Xavier was still standing there, fists clenched with his piercing gaze still fixed on the road even after Jake was gone.
“You can go too, Xavier,” I said. “I need some time alone.”
“We can be alone together. I’m not leaving you all alone,” he persisted.
“I’ll be fine, Xavier,” I looked at him sternly in his eyes.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Yes and No.”
“So why half yes?”
“Really, Xavier. There was no need of you guys to fuel up a war,” I said.
“Oh, so you mean to say you want me to just ignore it when he practically admitted he wanted you to sleep with him?” He narrowed his eyes at me defiantly, “For fuck’s sake, Alana. I’m still wondering why I didn’t kick his brains out.”
He was getting more and more angry with each word that came out of his mouth.
“Enough, Xavier. He didn’t actually mean that at all.” I sighed calmly.
“Why do you keep thinking so good ’bout him? He’s a fucking asshole! He admitted it!!”
Here comes Xavier’s tantrum.
“In a way, Xavier, you made him admit it. You didn’t even have to start talking ’bout the whole mom card thing.”
“You want me to wait around like a fucked-up angel while he gets his way with you?”
“He wasn’t looking for anything, Xavier,” I ran my fingers through my hair and exhaled exasperatedly, “You’re just jealous because I used to like him!”
“Well maybe, but whatever the fuck, I won’t have anybody faking goodness to have you on their bed,” he spat furiously, his eyes dark with hatred.
“Please, stop, Xavier! Please!!” I screamed, pressing my palms on the sides of my head and squeezing my eyes shut.
It was horrible. What we were fighting over was horrible. The whole idea of it. I’d never even ever thought about fighting over a subject so awful as that. I couldn’t take it. It was making my insides and everything else cringe in disgust. It needed to stop. I didn’t want to talk about it. Never.
And just as much as we were so much in love with each other, we also could quarrel just as bad. We all know this isn’t the first time Xavier and I had fought, right?
By now, even I was heaving with anger and frustration just as bad as he was. What I needed was rest and instead, they added more fuel to the fire and everything else just blew up to make things worst. I needed him to leave. If he stayed, there was no way this fight was ending. We knew just how to keep it going. He wouldn’t stop grumbling over it and I wouldn’t have him grumbling over that the whole time. But seriously, I thought it was high time he got over his jealousy. I was already madly in love with him for Christ’s sake.
What else does he want?!
“Just leave, Xavier,” I said, calming myself, and I started to walk towards my house.
I could feel him watching me intently for a moment before I heard his car door close. And soon enough, he was revving down the driveway. I looked back. His eyes were sternly fixed on the road and his jaws were still clenched tight. The speed of his driving and how he didn’t even spare a glance towards me clearly proved how furious he was about everything.
As I stood watching him leave and as I stayed back staring at the road even after he was out of sight, my eyes pooled over and then, whatever I was trying so hard to hold back gushed down in tears. I felt a tight excruciating squeeze in my chest, in my stomach and just everywhere.
God, I didn’t even know where and how to start expressing just how much I loved him. Or even how to end. What I was feeling for him was like a string without a beginning or an end. I just wished he’d understand.
What else does he want?
What else can I do?
What else, Xavier?